Teenagers are smack-dab in the middle of discovering their own individual identities. You may have noticed by the way that your daughter pierced her nose and died her hair blue, or your son has all but disappeared into his baggy hip hop clothes. Rather than discourage their unique style choices, use them to create spaces in your home that cater to their passions and pastimes.
Ask your children how they would decorate their bedrooms, study spots and living rooms and don’t dismiss their suggestions right away—even the most outrageous teen design ideas can be made fun, livable and enjoyable for friends and family. It just takes a little cooperation, a little compromise, and a lot of creativity.
Think in Themes
Son a skater? Give him a room complete with a half-pipe bed and skateboard shelving. Daughter dreaming of running off to Paris? Bring Paris to her. Try black and white Eiffel Tour posters and a French-word border. Giving your teen a bedroom that they love helps keep them home more and gives them a sense that you are supportive of their personal style and hobbies.
It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: your teen wants to paint his or her room black. Gasp! Before you run screaming from the room consider three things: it’s just a phase, it’s only paint, and in might not actually look that bad. Black walls might not be your first choice, but it’s not your room. Keep trim and ceilings a creamy white, use light, airy blinds, linens and carpeting and toss in as many bright, colourful accessories as your teen will accept. You might be seriously surprised by how cool it looks.
Study in Style
You may not see them do it very often, but schoolwork is a large part of your teenager’s life. Give them a cool, comfortable and quiet place, either in their bedroom or in another area of the house and chances are you’ll find them hitting the books a little harder. For a good starting point for a successful study space, splurge on funky supplies and a computer with all the bells and whistles. Desks and chairs are a must but if you have the space, add a super comfy couch or armchair for reading or quick naps during cramming sessions. Also, providing a proper filing cabinet can teach your teen valuable lessons about organizing important papers; it’s something they will carry with them forever.
A Place to Chill
Now that they have a place to work, equally important is a place to chill. You want to encourage friends to come over so they are in your sight, and your kids want to bring their friends around. A fun place for everyone to hang out is a must! Think comfortable couches, pillows on the floor and definitely a stereo system. Like you’ve done for their bedrooms, decorate with their personal style and hobbies in mind. And as much as you’d like them to be enjoying conversation or playing board games, a TV is probably a necessity as well.
Speaking of TVs, the eternal questions is, do they get one in their room or not? This debate needs to be resolved by every family in their own way. If you’re leaning toward "No way," how about compromising on some other super-cool accessories. Maybe it’s a computer system, a new stereo or that electric guitar amp they’ve been asking for. Another alternative, give them their own private time with the family TV, when they can watch favourite shows, DVDs or play video games. Ensure that during these times they have the space to enjoy themselves or with friends.
The Writing’s On the Wall
Teens love to scribble. Maybe it’s just cutesy doodles, maybe it’s tagging or graffiti. Whatever it is it’s definitely an expression of your child’s creativity. You should probably discourage them from spray painting the garage door, but why not give them a wall where they can paint, draw, scribble and write whatever they like. A blank wall inside the garage is a good option, but even one wall in their bedroom won’t kill you. Who knows you could be helping the next Picasso hone his skills right under your very roof.
Teens are secretive. They all are. And they all have private stuff that they don’t want to share with their parents. Keeping secrets may not be a behaviour that you wish to encourage with your children and rightly so—but raiding their rooms for evidence while they’re away isn’t going to help either. Work with your teen to create some storage and designate it as private property. Recognizing a place where they can keep journals, letters and pictures of their secret crushes helps teens feel confident that you trust them and that you respect their belongings.
Not all teenagers want a black room (thank goodness!) but most do want some kind of shocking colour to create a vivid and energizing atmosphere. The life of a teenager is wild and so it only makes sense that their room be a little crazy too. If your teen’s room is still decorated in baby colours or little kid themes, it’s time to give them a slightly older, slightly wilder look. Red is always a strong colour to work with, as is hot pink and bright blue. Another way to add trendy dimension to the room is with animal prints, textured elements like sequence and large corkboards where they can display photos and posters.
Ah yes, the posters. The pin-ups. The dreamy-teen idols plastered all over the walls. You might not love this messy look, but chances are your teen will do it anyway. If you want to save the walls from staples and thumbtacks, try covering one whole wall in corkboard. If it’s celebrities your teen is displaying, try building on the theme and creating a glamorous Hollywood look. Use feather boas and set up a vanity area just like the ones in old Hollywood movies. Your budding starlet will thank you for it in her Oscar-speech.
A Private Place
You love your kids and they love you. This is a given. It is also a given that teens want and need privacy. They need a place where they can be alone to gossip with friends, cry over broken hearts or just contemplate their chaotic, complicated lives. The number one thing that teens ask for when it comes to home design is a place to call their own. Create a space in your home—specifically for your teen, with their input and design ideas—and them a reason to stay home more often and to respect you as a parent who cares about who they are, what they feel and what they choose as their own personal style. Chances are, surviving the teen years will be easier for you both.